The party sits in the darkened tunnel for what seems like days with no noise heard outside or in. Finally, bearing the darkness and silence no longer they return to the door to see if they can get out only to find the way blocked from the dragon’s furry. Bilbo then encourages them all to go down and see what they can discover, dragon or no. As they get close, Bilbo goes ahead, and it is so dark that he tumbles out of the tunnel onto the floor of the great hall. Bilbo actually calls out for the dragon, but there is no answer, and in the darkness he calls for a light (246–248).
The dwarves, of course are alarmed at Bilbo’s falling and calling, but finally Thorin sends Oin and Gloin back to their stores to get some lights. They return with torches, and Bilbo quickly takes one, but is unable—yet—to persuade the others to come into the hall. The dwarves watch his light wander the hall and climb the large hill of treasure. They notice him stoop, but they do not know why. “It was the Arkenstone, the Heart of the Mountain.” Bilbo knows it from Thorin’s description. Bilbo takes it and puts it in his pocket. Immediately begins an internal debate about this being his share of the treasure, even though he knows this was not meant when he was told he could choose his share. The torch vanishes as it goes down the mound, but reappeares on the other side of the hall. He makes it all the way to the doors at the far side when a bat scares him, makes him drop his torch, and Bilbo is left in the dark (248–250).
He begins to call for the dwarves. They hear his cries for help, and realize they must go and see what the matter is. They find him in short order and explanations are given—except the finding of the Arkenstone. But at the sight of all the treasure, the dwarves grow bold and begin to explore the hall, losing all fear and caution. Fili and Kili find harps and begin to play filling the hall with music. The dwarves fill their pockets with treasure and Thorin ever searches for the Arkenstone. They also take weapons and mail and arm themselves. They even outfit Bilbo in a shirt or mithril (250–252).
While the dwarves are still enchanted with the hoard, Bilbo grows tired of it all and sits and wishes he could trade some of the hoard for something out of one of Beorn’s wooden bowls. Finally Bilbo tells Thorin that they have tempted luck too long. Thorin agrees and leads them, not back up the tunnel, but out of the great doors. They wind their way up stairs and down passages, following Thorin’s leading. Just when Bilbo is about to be tired out, they come to the great chamber of Thror and through it to the sound of water and the front gate (252–254).
Bilbo is pleased to finally see the sun again, but remarks that the wind is cold. Bilbo also realizes he is hungry and that it is late morning. He says they should find a place away from the gate for a meal. Balin suggests an old look-out post. When Bilbo asks how far it is, Balin says five hours march. They all realize they need to be out of the front gate—in case the dragon comes back—and so they follow Balin’s advice and make for the look-out (254–256).
They stop in a dell sheltered in the rocks and have some cram and water and then set out again. By late afternoon, they come to the look-out. Some sleep and others talk and plan and wonder where the dragon is. But no one understands the meaning of the great gathering of birds that they see (256–257).